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Judge Merrick Garland

Justice Department Condemned For Defending Anti-LGBTQ Colleges

Judge Merrick Garland

Attorney General Merrick Garland (photo: Public Domain)

Folks are getting angry about a court filing by the Department of Justice where it appears the DOJ could be defending religious schools against LGBTQ students who say they are being discriminated against.

From the Washington Post:

The Justice Department in a court filing Tuesday said it can “vigorously” defend a religious exemption from federal civil rights law that allows federally funded religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students, a move that surprised some LGBTQ advocates who said the wording went further than just an obligation to defend an existing law.

In the filing, the Biden administration said it “shares the same ultimate objective” as the conservative Christian schools named in the case.

“What this means is that the government is now aligning itself with anti-LGBTQ hate in order to vigorously defend an exemption that everyone knows causes severe harm to LGBTQ students using taxpayer money,” said Paul Carlos Southwick, director of the Religious Exemption Accountability Project, which filed the case in March on behalf of dozens of current and past students at conservative religious colleges and universities. “It will make our case harder if the federal government plans to vigorously defend it like they have indicated.”

The case at hand, Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education, involves 40 LGBTQ students from religious colleges and universities who have filed suit against the government for providing funding to schools with discriminatory policies.

The schools, however, are playing the First Amendment rights card saying they have a right to discriminate against queer students via their traditional religious beliefs about sexuality and gender.

While it sounds like the Justice Department has thrown us under the bus, over on Michelangelo Signorile’s website LGBTQ civil rights lawyer Jillian Weiss took a look and says this may not be as bleak as it seems:

“As I read the brief, DOJ is trying to prevent religious colleges from taking over the case. They would certainly argue outlier positions that a newly conservative Supreme Court would love to scoop us.

“Sure, 28 USC 1681(a)(3) is bogus: “this section shall not apply to an educational institution which is controlled by a religious organization if the application of this subsection would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”

“But I would prefer Garland’s DOJ to handle this any day of the week rather than the proposed religious intervenors.”

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